Great Time at Explore Design!

Explore Design (ED) is one of the most energetic conferences we've participated in. After ED wrapped up on Thursday, our feet and throat were telling us just how much they were overworked, but it was totally worth it. :) During the two-day conference, a couple of thousand high school students visited the Microsoft booth. It's so nice to interact with them directly and hear their unique feedback on the Microsoft Design examples we showed. Some of interesting observations:

  • Interacting with a Surface table and learning how to design games for XBOX were two biggest hits in our booth.
  • There were more girls at the Surface table than boys. Although both genders loved playing games with each other on the table, girls often explored more applications on the Surface tables.
  • Many students liked the Zune design. Actually, during my presentation "Designing Magical User Interfaces," a student mentioned Zune is a magical designed object. Other examples are Wii, iPone, and Photoshop. When I asked "why zune," he told me that he really liked the shape and the external materials of Zune. It makes him feel Zune is more sturdy than iPod. Students also liked the social feature of Zune.
  • Most of the time, instead of actively demoing Surface, we let students interact with it on their own. We found often times the sequence of how they explore Surface table is: interacting with one finger from one hand first, and then with two or more fingers from one hand, and finally with multiple fingers from both hands.
  • Many interesting questions were asked about Surface. Among those, one of them I remembered very clearly. One Industrial Design professor asked me about the bacterial concern for Surface when it's touched by so many people in public places! This is something I haven't thought about, but it's a very valid concern. Today, we do to eat at a restaurant, we hardly touch the dining table even in very high-end restaurant. If these tables are replaced by Surface tables in the future, we'll interact and play with them before, during, or after eating our meals. How can we design the surface so it'll be germ free? Maybe having hand sanitizer attached to the table.

We actually got some media attention, too. An interview with Lisa Anderson, Director at Surface UX team, on Both Tech Life (CTV Online) and OMNI Television came to our both and conducted interviews.  I really hope the experience of Explore Design can encourage more students go into the field of design, especially User Experience Design for technology!

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